Looking for a tough workout which offers a mind-boggling variety of exercises that work on both agility and cardio? Perhaps it is time you traded in your gym for a skipping rope. The rope can be used to build muscle endurance in the arms and legs, provide a solid core workout, strengthen the bones and improve the body’s sense of balance.
A study conducted by the health journal Appetite in February shows that the skipping rope is one of the best exercises for weight loss. The study had two groups of men performing 30 minutes of exercise. One group jumped rope, the other rode stationary bikes. After the exercise, the men who skipped were significantly less hungry than the other group.
The report found that weight-bearing exercises like skipping—in which the muscles and joints bear the repeated impact of hitting the ground—lower levels of certain hunger hormones, such as ghrelin, which stimulates appetite, compared with non-weight-bearing exercises like cycling. This might be due to the vertical movement involved in skipping, which is most effective in reducing hunger hormone production, the report says.
According to Sandeep Sachdev, a Mumbai-based fitness consultant at Fitness First India, skipping increases the heart rate, which helps burn that extra fat. It also promotes flexibility. “Skipping is one of those exercises that every individual can perform as per their effort levels and look at a gradual increase,” Sachdev says. “It works on the full body, including abdominal, and is a great cardio exercise. In fact, 20 minutes of skipping has the same effect as running for 20 minutes, and also helps strengthen your ligaments and makes your body agile.”
For Piyush Pandey, fitness trainer at the CrossFit gym, New Delhi, what makes skipping exciting is the variety of different movements that can be performed with the rope. “It’s never boring,” Pandey says. “There are so many different kinds of skipping, for example: criss-cross, one-leg skipping, split-jump skipping. You can even alternate your legs while doing one-leg skipping, to make it more interesting.”
But despite benefits like cheap equipment and no requirement of a large space or long hours for the workout, skipping can take a long time to master. Usually, getting the act right is a challenge. “Initially, a skipper will take higher jumps per skip but with time you have to train yourself to just jump barely above the ground and continue with skipping. Jumping high can injure your knees,” says Sachdev.